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Whyte Hall: a Look at the New Fire Island Pines Community Center
Whyte Hall
Photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert

It was Opening Night of the Fire Island Pines Arts Project's (FIPAP) first theatrical production at the new Whyte Hall, the Fire Island Pines Community Center. I was more than pleased that I had tickets to the opening show of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." It proved to be a hell of a show. It got each and every one on their feet for big, thunderous applause. You just have to see it all for yourself.

When I first saw the building, I thought, the Pines' Lincoln Center. Even the approach to raising funds was the same one used in Lincoln Center. You could have sponsored anything from the Great Hall to a bathroom stall. And, at a cost of $2.3 million, a good job was done by all.


About 15 years ago, the Pines had a competition to design a new community center. It was won by the Manhattan-based architectural firm of Bromley Caldari and, again, represents a great job well done.

When I arrived on opening night to see the show, I was met by Tony LaRocco, the House Manager, who is also Vice-President of FIPAP and the Pines Archivist. Well, he gave me the 50-cent tour. On the first level is a great back area for storage and, soon, dressing rooms. Then there's a large room for meetings, church services, and other small events. In the front area is the doctor's office. Then-can you believe it?-we went up in an elevator, possibly the only elevator on Fire Island, to the second level, where the ticket office, main entrance, and two large chrome-and-marble bathrooms are located. And-what else?-the Great Theater room, the Brandon Fradd Theater, with a stage that can accommodate a two-story set, as "Best Little Whorehouse," with setting designed by FIPAP President Glen Weilgus, proved. On the top floor is the living area for the doctor, which has panoramic views.

Outside the main entrance is a very large deck, with a Swiss-made steel and canvas canopy that covers the entire area. On opening night, there were 400 people on this deck for the party. The theater has doors that can slide back to make one space of indoors and outdoors. Not bad, wouldn't you say? The Pines has really come up with a great area to have its community celebrations in and what a grand place it is--all our best wishes to all who have brought it into being.

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